Mindful Pleasures

February 26th, 2010

‘The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.’ ~Thich Nhat Hanh

The practice of mindfulness originated within Buddhist traditions but has been adapted into a healing modality for a wide range of illnesses. Impressive study results confirm the power of focusing our attention with intention on improving biological functioning on everything from cancer recovery to immune response to chronic pain.

Recently, a Canadian sexologist Lori Brotto applied the technique of mindfulness to sexual dysfunction with heartening results. ‘We spend far too much time worrying about whether we’re ‘normal’ or good enough,” says Brotto. “Mindfulness is about cutting out that kind of noise and tapping into what your body is doing.” Her research shows that many sexual dysfunction symptoms aren’t generally caused by physiological wiring problems, but more often by a psychological mind-body disconnect.

Applying the practice of mindfulness to our intimate experiences is healing, not only because we commit ourselves to being fully present but also because we do so with non-judgmental eyes and a gentle heart. Often, the lack of connection we have to our natural sexual libido comes as a result of the over-thinking that our unspoken sexual insecurities and fears create.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of anxiety you bring to the bedroom, whether it is performance anxiety or fears about achieving orgasm, as soon as the mind starts spinning, you leave the present moment and trigger the physiological flight/fight response, which makes it impossible to focus on the sensations in your body. Thoughts of work, family concerns or body issues literally take you away from the visceral experience of contact. It feels like no feeling in your body. Forget about arousal, you might not even feel someone pinch you when you are lost in a mind out of control.

A good way to begin to quiet the mind and bring your self into the moment is to rely on the senses. Sensuality is really nothing more than connecting to your senses deeply. It is in the smallest of sensations that this practice comes alive. For instance, actually feel the different textures of skin on your partner’s body or feel the weight of their hands on your lower abdomen, run your fingers through their hair, trace their face with your lips. Giving these moments are full attention says love.

It was waking up to the power of scent that first deeply shifted my ability to be fully present in my own intimacy. It is what started my company. The greatest pleasure I have in life is when my husband says he is ‘smoking me.’ Being consumed in your sense of smell with someone you love carries the intrinsic power of presence.

Mindfulness takes practice. Incorporating some silent times alone of noticing and watching your mind at work. Learning to let go of erroneous thoughts on your own will help when you get distracted with a partner. Learning to stay focused on the sensations you experience with your partner can be more challenging than it sounds. This is why mindfulness has always been associated with loving-kindness. Mindfulness has a snowball effect in life; it is a slow progression that eventually changes the way you live.

What better place to practice it, then with the person you love. Showing up mindfully and experiencing the remarkable range of sensations that physical love and arousal creates in the body is transformative in your relationship and your life. There is no higher gateway to transcendence.

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